In the Forums...
Posted: February 19, 1999
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Estimated retail price: $19.99 + S&H
What do you get when you cross two 80mm case fans with a crazy overclocker and a really cool penguin? The Card Cooler!
The Card Cooler is a simple but effective cooling device developed by an overclocker. The Card Cooler is designed to cool video cards, but will work with any card, or it can even be mounted over no card at all. Heat is one of the biggest problems with video cards and when you want to fight the heat there is no alternative as far as simplicity and price to a good fan. (or in this case, two fans).
The Card Cooler is a preassembled set of metal racks with two giant 80mm case fans attached. The air flow of the fans is not listed but the power usage is 12V.
The dimensions of the cooler are about 6 1/8" long x 3 1/4" wide x 1" deep. The unit is placed directly above the video card(s) you wish to cool. The cooler should fit in most cases.. it did in both of my ATX mini-towers. (ugh, I really want a full tower..)
To install the cooler, remove the sides of your case and locate the item that you wish to be cooled. Keep in mind that these fans are so powerful they will actually cool your entire case, not just the items directly below it. Once you have found a spot for the cooler, remove the screws that hold the item in place. Now set the cooler in place and screw it in. Note that unlike certain other products, the installation is 100% safe and will not void your warranty because nothing is actually attached to the card itself. The cooler plugs into the same connectors as a hard drive or CD-ROM drive. Once you have plugged the power in, you're ready to start fragging.
It may be hard to tell from this picture, but the fans blow toward the cards. The designer of the cooler tested both ways and came to the conclusion that blowing toward the cards was more effective. I tried both methods and even reversing only one of the fans, but his method proved to be the best; two fans facing straight at the cards.
The coolers are big, but certainly not too big. I think the size is perfect because it covered both of my Voodoo2s, my Diamond Monster Sound MX200, and my TNT completely.
The simple design of The Card Cooler makes it efficient for most cases. There is plenty of room to spare (perhaps to add another? =) )
Now that the installation is out of the way, let's see what kind of power I can get out of this little monster... For these tests, I placed the cooler directly over these four cards from left to right; STB Black Magic 3D Voodoo2, STB Black Magic 3D Voodoo2 (2), Diamond Monster Sound MX200, Skywell Magic TNT.
ABit BX6 mainboard
64 MB PC100 SDRAM
Skywell Magic TNT 16 MB
STB Black Magic 3D Voodoo2 12 MB x2 (SLI)
Diamond Monster Sound MX200
The case cover was removed for the temperature comparisons
A digital thermometer was attached to the cards during temperature comparisons
The Skywell Magic TNT was equipped only with a tiny heatsink, but The Card Cooler helped the card a lot. In fact, I ran 11 Crusher Quake 2 demos before the PC finally froze while the Skywell Magic TNT was running at 112 MHz core / 125 MHz memory. (note-this was very close to the TennMax Lasagna's 115 MHz core rating)
After experimenting with the different speeds, I decided to test the temperature of the card. These are the results after 5 Quake 2 Crusher demos with the TNT core speed at 105 MHz and the memory speed at 120 MHz clock. 15 minutes passed between each trial.
But that's not all folks... remember, this cooler reaches across 4 slots. So instead of just being able to cool your TNT it will cool everything it passes over.
How good does 2 x 80mm fans cool Voodoo2 SLI? Well, I had my STB Black Magic 3D Voodoo2s (SLI) running @ 105 MHz with Quake II's Crusher demo non-stop for 20 minutes before a crash. I passed 2 Unreal fly-by sequences before a crash which is actually pretty good. (Unreal hates Voodoo2 overclocking) I also went through 3 3DMark tests before a crash. The highest I got the cards was 109 MHz and it passed two Crusher demos. Not too shabby! =)
Now, to test the temperature of the card I attached the thermometer to the main chip and loaded up Quake II. I ran 5 complete Crusher demos @ 100 MHz and then I tested the temperature. I then shut down the PC for 15 minutes to allow the card to cool and went another round @ 100 MHz and checked the temperature again.
The Card Cooler did an excellent job cooling both Voodoo2s while still easily cooling the TNT and even my sound card!
When I put my case cover back on, the tests were the same but about 10ºF higher in all categories. The decrease in temperature by using the cooler was still the same, but removing your case cover is recommended for sure if you plan to buy this product.
The biggest issue with a cooler like this is power consumption. I thought the fans would suck every bit of power from my computer because I have two hard drives, a CD-ROM drive, a CD-R drive, plus all the cards and a two fan CPU cooler. But I saw no problems with power consumption so I assume that most users should not have a problem with this.
Finally, when I first saw The Card Cooler I thought it would be very loud, but in fact there was very little noise increase. These two giant fans were so quiet I assumed they weren't hooked up properly ... but they were really just THAT quiet. I know a lot of people will appreciate this feature.
For $20, you can't go wrong with this fine product. If you wanted to make your own Card Cooler, the chances are highly unlikely that it would save you any money or time, and that the fans would be as high quality as these. They are virtually silent, and judging from the results above, very powerful. Instead of cooling one card and voiding its warranty you can cool four cards with almost as much power, cool everything in your case at once, and even circulate the air throughout your case better.
I fully recommend The Card Cooler to anyone looking for a cheap, quiet, and effective way to keep your system cool.
You can purchase one today from http://www.thecardcooler.com for $19.99.